Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
TITLE: A Certain Lawyer
By Leola Ogle
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But it was the 1970’s, I had my own kids and patios were trendy. I was thrilled to move to a new patio home. The privacy it offered was so much nicer than being in full view of the neighborhood.
Alas, it took me years to realize the value of front porches. It was a subtle change in culture as I knew it. I missed the camaraderie with neighbors that sitting on a front porch offered. People walking their dogs. Pushing babies in strollers. Couples holding hands on an evening stroll. The call of greetings to each other and asking about families and work and the news. Making friends with new neighbors.
I am a people-person and I missed that. But life happened like a tsunami crashing over me, so I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I only knew I missed it. Time passed. The kids grew and left home. The passing of time was bittersweet as we became empty-nesters.
We had moved several times during those years, but always stayed in the neighborhood I had lived in for over forty years. Time hadn’t been kind to our neighborhood. It wasn’t as nice as it once was. That made me sad. It became ethnically diverse. Three of our neighbors are from other countries. I absolutely love that.
There’s no divisiveness on our street. We exchange pleasantries. We help each other when there’s a need. We watch out for each other – guard our neighbor’s house when they’re gone. We hug, we laugh and cry together. We are neighbors. We are friends.
Who are our neighbors? In Luke 10: 25-37 we find the parable of the Good Samaritan. A certain lawyer, in attempt to trap Jesus, asked a couple of questions. One question he asked was who was his neighbor. Jesus’s tale of the parable clearly shows our neighbor has nothing to do with geographical location. Our neighbor is anyone and everyone we come in contact with. According to the parable, compassion, kindness, and mercy is key to being a good neighbor.
Twenty years ago when the houses on our street were being built, we were dismayed to discover our neighbors on the left were not nice. They complained about everything we did. We are nice people, and were irritated over their pettiness and meanness – until we decided to fight back with kindness. I baked cookies for them. We smiled and waved every chance we got. We offered to help when they got a flat tire. When they both got the flu, we took their garbage cans to the curb for them.
We made friends of our enemies. We chose not to be like the certain lawyer, but like the Good Samaritan. During the twenty years in this neighborhood, we are the only original owners left. Neighbors have come and gone, but we always made friends.
During the past year, our little community has had problems with our Homeowners Association. We, and our neighbors, felt a great injustice was being dealt to our neighborhood, particularly to our street. We banded together and attended numerous meetings to voice our complaint. The look on the HOA officers’ and staff’s faces when we entered that first meeting – every color of skin and accent represented, standing in unity, asking that a wrong be made right – was priceless. It took a few meetings, but we got what we asked for. They even complimented us. “It’s nice that you all get along so well.”
Who is your neighbor? Read the parable of the Good Samaritan as a reminder. If you have cantankerous, hard-to-get-along-with neighbors, family members, co-workers, or anyone else like that in your life, shower them with kindness. Sadly, there are some people who can never be won over, no matter what you do.
Sometimes in the quietness of our empty house, when the world goes to work and I’m home alone in my retirement, or when the neighborhood sleeps, I recall those days long ago when everyone sat on porches or in their front yards. When someone walked by, we knew if they were neighbors or strangers.
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